Family tension can lead to false allegations of abuse, Mariana Hernandez saw her father face the charges.
by Mariana Hernandez
There’s this story I can never forget.
In fifth grade, I received a note to report to the principal’s office. I couldn’t imagine what I had done wrong.
As soon as I entered the office, my eyes met those two policemen sitting with their legs crossed. They never took their eyes off me. I felt intimidated, attacked.
These two approached me and asked me some questions.
“What does your dad do when you guys argue?”
“Does he lock you up in the bathroom by yourself?”
“Does he get you in trouble a lot, sweetie?”
“What does he say to your sisters when they argue?”
“He never laid hands on you, did he?”
I tried to answer these questions as fast as I could so I could get it over with.
The only words that came out of my mouth were: “We never even fight.”
When I came home later that day, I learned why the police had showed up at my school. My aunt reported my father for child abuse. This didn’t surprise me. My mom’s side of the family never got along with my dad’s side, and my aunt wanted my dad out of the picture.
When my aunt reported my dad, I was too young to know what was happening. But I felt lost, confused, scared, angry.
Two days later, a social worker visited my house and asked me more questions about my dad. The social worker was a female in her 30s. She stayed for two hours questioning me and my two older sisters. My sisters entered their room first, along with the lady. Then it was my turn… I was nervous. I had to enter the room alone and I sat on my sister’s bed as the woman sat next to me with a clipboard in her hand. I avoided eye contact, looking down at my fingers.
“Has daddy ever laid his hands on you?”
“Who gives you baths?”
Those are the only questions I remember.
My dad never hurt or touched me, nor did he hurt or touch my two older sisters.
Because of my aunt’s allegations, the social worker didn’t trust me to be alone with my dad. For about a week, whenever my mom was at work, my aunt from my dad’s side had to watch me.
To this day I’m still upset by the experience and I know my own father was always innocent.
In time, the social worker realized my dad had done nothing wrong and she left and never returned.
Today, my mom still keeps in touch with my aunt and believes me and my sisters should give her another chance.
I will always care for her because she’s family. But I’ve lost respect for her.
It’s crazy to me how one’s own blood can go against family. But I guess some people are just cold-hearted. And I doubt that I will ever understand what motivated her to cause so much hurt.
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Image: Victor Zapata